LETTER: Drama over Bayonne assembly seat in LD-31 shows it’s time ditch HCDO line

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In a letter to the editor, Bayonne resident Peter Franco says that drama over the Peninsula City’s assembly seat in the 31st Legislative District shows it’s time to ditch the Hudson County Democratic Organization line.

Bayonne Assemblyman Nick Chiaravalloti (D-31) will not be running on the Democratic party line in the June 8th, 2021 primary election.

Dear Editor,

Government should be of the people for the people and by the people.

Nowhere in the federal or state constitutions does it give greater power to our mayor or political bosses than that of our voting power, yet we know the influence of the county line determines the election victor and it’s not right.

As many of you know, our mayor, Jimmy Davis, announced he would not be supporting the re-election of our assemblyman, Nicholas Chiaravalloti, and encouraged the Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO) to remove Chiaravalloti from the line.

If our mayor has his way, Bayonne will lose tremendously replacing Chiaravalloti, the Majority WHIP in the state assembly (acting floor leader) for a political newbie with zero legislative experience.

Like him or not, it should be our decision as voters not the mayor’s, to determine our representative’s fate. Thanks to the county line, Bayonne voters will be at a severe disadvantage in this Democratic primary election and here is why.

A respected policy firm had reviewed the impact of the county line influence on local elections.

From the ballot design which encourages voters to pick the candidates on the line because they are easy to find and visually distinct, to the placement of better-known candidates, for example this year is our governor’s race and if you like the job Governor Murphy has done you would be more inclined to vote to build upon his success.

However, if you vote down the line this time you would be voting for a change in your assemblyman aka the Majority WHIP.

This firm looked at the impact of ballot design and how spreading candidates across multiple columns or rows and placing extra columns or rows between them, makes it much harder for voters to determine which candidates are running for each office.

Let’s say your local official fell out of favor with the political elites but he or she is determined to run and continue his or her work; you may see your current assemblyman in Column B, meanwhile in Column A, you see Governor Murphy and other candidates for office you may like and want to support.

This could result in your vote not counting because you mistakenly voted for too many candidates for a given position.

This isn’t baseless theory about the county line influence. There is evidence here to substantiate such claims. According to New Jersey Policy Perspective, “no state legislative incumbent on the line had lost a New Jersey primary election between 2009 and 2018.” T

hey go onto state “Although incumbents generally win re-election, that advantage is rarely so absolute.” In Bayonne’s case, the powers-to-be wanting to replace our assemblyman and they are doing so by removing him from the county line. Thus, making the case.

Since our mayor has demonstrated he is operating from ego and incapable of making smart political decisions with Bayonne’s best interest at heart, we must hold him accountable. No longer can he be trusted with such influence over our right to vote.

This is why I introduced a resolution to the Bayonne city council members yesterday morning for review prior to the caucus hearing.

This would give our city officials at least a week to review this resolution and hopefully find the courage to do the right thing and purge influence of our elections.

If an elected official was a doing a terrible job but had the county line, voters would be at a disadvantage to get rid of him. Why should bad politicians be protected by the line?

Conversely, why should good candidates and progressive ideas be at a disadvantage on the ballot based on a select small group of power brokers who carry the influence of the county line?

The voters should have the ultimate power. It’s time for the voters to hold politicians accountable and the only way to do that is by abolishing the line and restoring the power of our vote.

Peter Franco
Bayonne resident